Shelton, WA — Newly elected councilmembers held their first city council meeting tonight, marking the commencement of the new council-manager form of government in Shelton. The city’s government has operated as a commission for the past seven decades. The City of Shelton is the last city in Washington State to make the transition from a commission form of government, which was popular throughout the state during the early part of the 20th century.
The action comes in response to a petition that was submitted to the Mason County Auditor’s Office last year in July. Petitioners surpassed the state regulated signature requirement, which allowed the measure to be placed on the November 7, 2017 ballot. Shelton voters approved the proposed transition by 64.37%: 943 in favor; 522 opposed.
A special election to fill the four new council seats created by the council-manager form of government was finalized on April 24, 2018. Newly elected councilmembers include:
- Seat Four: Eric Onisko
- Seat Five: Deidre Peterson
- Seat Six: Joe Schmit
- Seat Seven: Bob Rogers
The three sitting commissioners automatically retain their seats for the remainder of their current term and become councilmembers by default. This includes:
- Seat One: Gary Cronce
- Seat Two: Kathy McDowell
- Seat Three: Kevin Dorcy
The first item of business for the new council was to appoint one of its members to serve as mayor/chair for a two year term. By majority vote, Bob Rogers was appointed to serve as the new mayor. Deidre Peterson was appointed to serve as deputy mayor. Hereafter, the council will continue to appoint an elected member of the council to serve as mayor every two years, or they can choose to pass an ordinance that would establish Council Seat One as the mayoral seat on the council. This would allow the citizens of Shelton to directly elect a mayor under the council-manager form of government.
What is the council-manager form of government?
In a council-manager city, the elected council consists of seven members, responsible for policymaking. Each councilmember is elected to serve a four-year term.
Every two years, councilmembers will appoint one member of the council to serve as mayor. Additionally, the council could pass an ordinance that would establish Council Seat One as the mayoral seat on the council. This would allow the citizens of Shelton to directly elect the mayor. The mayor serves as the presiding officer at council meetings, and the ceremonial leader of the city. The mayor has no executive or administrative authority.
The council will appoint a professional city manager who is responsible for administration, including the daily operations of city government, personnel functions, and preparing the city budget. The city manager is directly accountable to and can be removed by a majority vote of the council at any time.
Is there anything else about Shelton’s government that changes under the council-manager form of government?
Shelton will continue to be a non-charter code city, which operates pursuant to applicable statutory provisions, including but not limited to Title 35A RCW. The city council will work to update the Shelton Municipal Code to reflect the current change in form of government. The council will then have authority to implement other changes to the city’s municipal code – including regulations governing revenue, utilities, and land development – as long as the municipal code remains consistent with Washington State Law.
What is a ‘quorum’ and why is that important?
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly, such as a city council, necessary to conduct the business of that group. The requirement for a quorum is a protection against totally unrepresentative action in the name of the body by an unduly small number of persons. Under the current seven-member council, the presence of four councilmembers generally constitutes a quorum.
Where can I view information about upcoming city council meetings?
City council meeting agendas, information packets, videos, and meeting minutes can be found on the city’s website. Agendas and information packets for upcoming city council meetings are normally published on the Friday afternoon prior to the next scheduled city council meeting, which are typically on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Shelton Civic Center.
Where can I find more information on forms of municipal government in Washington?
Additional information on the new council-manager form of government can be found on the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) website: http://mrsc.org/Home/Explore-Topics/Legal/General-Government/City-and-Town-Forms-of-Government.aspx